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InfoQ Homepage News Build 2017 Day 1 Keynote Recap

Build 2017 Day 1 Keynote Recap

Microsoft's annual Build developer conference opened today in Seattle’s Washington State Convention Center.  Read on for InfoQ's coverage as Microsoft announced their evolving plans for the cloud and big data, updates to key developer tools, and the increasing role of artificial intelligence.  (This was written live during the keynote, please excuse any spelling or typographical errors.)

As is tradition, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella opens Day 1 of Build 2017.  He begins by discussing some figures surrounding the generation of data in today’s big data world:

  • 1992 – 100 gigabytes per day
  • 17.5 million times that per second
  • 99% of all data has been generated in the last two years
  • By 2020 25 billion intelligent devices

Opportunity & Responsibility

With all this opportunity comes responsibility for those building the software and services.  "The choices we as developers make, are going to have pretty profound implications."  This addresses the issue of the unintended consequences of technology, which cannot be solved by technologists alone.  Nadella proceeds to raise the visions of the future as portrayed by George Orwell’s 1984 (unwavering control of the population), and Aldous Huxley in Brave New World (distraction without meaning or purpose).

Nadella wants to ensure that what he considers to be “our timeless values and principles” are enshrined and protected by technologists:

  1. Empower people
  2. Inclusive design
  3. Build trust in technology

Key usage and adoption statistics presented by Nadella:

  • Cortana is being used by 140 million monthly active users
  • 500 million Windows 10 monthly active devices
  • 12 million organizations in Azure Active Directory
  • >909% Fortune 500 using Microsoft Cloud
  • 100 million commercial Office 365 monthly active users

Mobile-first / Cloud-first was Microsoft’s theme last year, but this is evolving, moving from mobile first / cloud first to Intelligent Cloud and the Intelligent Edge. Build 2017 will focus on the shift in Microsoft’s worldview.  In Nadella’s words, the user experience is becoming distributed across a multitude of devices, and not limited just to a smartphone.  The platform shift is "all about the data"; autonomous cars for example, generate tremendous amounts of data.

A big change will be the advent of serverless—and the ability to write logic that responds to the world by being able to distribute this to where the devices are rather than be limited to running on a server or in a virtual machine.

Azure IoT Edge is a cross-platform runtime that runs on Windows and Linux and enables cloud functionality to run and be managed on IoT devices. Logic can be tested and deployed in the cloud, and then deployed to IoT devices when considered ready via Docker containers.

A demo was given showing the growing role and ability of security cameras to be used to inform an AI-based system that uses image recognition and analysis to locate people, equipment, or workplace hazards.  The example of locating a stray wheelchair in a hospital was given.  Another example given was the ability to locate specialized tools at a jobsite and identifying the appropriate person to transfer it across the worksite. The system demonstrated is capable of more than 27 million recognitions occurring per second of both people and objects.  Microsoft’s Andrea Carl was on-hand to provide a live demonstration of this recognition system and how it could be communicated with via chat/bot style interface on her smartphone.

Bill Buxton is referenced by Nadella – one of the biggest challenges is the social complexity of managing today’s devices and data.

Intelligent Meetings Demo

Laura Jones demonstrated how Cortana was able to communicate with voice commands and interact with her employer’s system, push data to devices (such as her car), and obtain the fuel level in her car, allowing her schedule to be adjusted so that Laura had time to stop for gas on the way to the meeting.  Since Laura was running late in her example, Cortana alerted Laura to dial in to the meeting while en route.

Microsoft Teams supports members communicating via Skype, in person, and Microsoft Bots.  Teams provide a meeting transcription and the ability to replay the audio of the conference.

Incredible demonstration of the “Emma” device designed to help users with hand tremors regain at least some ability to write and use their hands while reducing or even eliminating the tremors on their actions.

Developer Tool Announcements with Scott Guthrie

Scott Guthrie has arrived on stage for his segment of the keynote.  Speaking Azure, Guthrie addresses some key values and principles forming Azure:  Innovation, Trust, and Results.

Scott Hansleman is introduced to provide a demonstration of Microsoft Azure and Visual Studio.  There is the new Azure Cloud Shell, inside of the Azure Cloud Portal.  Bash is ready today, with PowerShell coming soon.  There is a persistent Cloud Drive and Azure CLI tools.  Hanselman is able to perform a variety of tasks within the shell, including listing active virtual machines, launching Vim, and creating new virtual machines all from the command line.

Next is the launch of the Azure Mobile App so Azure can be monitored and controlled from either an iPhone or an Android.  This app includes the cloud shell terminal from within the mobile app.

Azure has the ability to take intelligent snapshots so application errors or exceptions can be debugged in real time on Visual Studio.  While in a production environment, Hanselman is able to collect Snapshots of the application’s operation in Visual Studio’s debugger.  This occurs in real-time while the application is running as-normal for outside users.

Visual Studio for Mac has now reached general availability, and includes support for Mobile, Web, Unity, and Azure workloads.  Developers who are licensed for a given version of Visual Studio are entitled to use the equivalent version of Visual Studio for Mac.

Guthrie announces the availability of PostgreSQL as a Service and MySQL as a Service on Azure Services, available today and 100% compatible with existing drivers, tools, and libraries.  Joining these is the release of Azure Cosmos DB, a globally distributed database service.  It possesses high availability, performance latency, performance throughput, and data consistency.  Azure Cosmos DB is available for access today.

Visual Studio 2017 now has integrated Docket tooling, enabling the develop-debug-test-deploy cycle, and end-to-end DevOps support.  Maria demonstrates how to containerize an existing .NET Framework application that requires IIS Server and Windows to run.  VS2017 supports cross-container debugging and Continuous Delivery for container based applications.  VS2017 adds support for Azure Functions and Logic Apps, and Azure Application Insights for Azure Functions.

Azure Stack – Cloud application model, located on-premise at an organization where an Internet connection is not possible or not via allowed due for regulatory reasons.

As expected, Harry Shum arrives for the third act of today’s keynote.  He expresses that Microsoft AI’s goal is to amplify human ingenuity.  He identifies three forces at work:

  1. Big compute
  2. Powerful algorithms
  3. Massive amounts of data

Cognitive Technology and Artificial Intelligence

To support developers, Microsoft is providing the Microsoft Cloud, AI innovation, and Microsoft Graph.  Some of the key developments in AI and breakthroughs presented include Microsoft's vision system (RESNET),  speech recognition, and Microsoft's desire to bring this technology to every developer.

Shum presents a video by a game developer using Microsoft Cognitive services for speech recognition in game.  One of the advantages of the Microsoft technology is that allows for the use of custom vocabularies (as one finds in science fiction settings), unlike the competition.

Conversational AI – Cognitive Service + Bot Framework powers the move from users learning about the computer to one where the computer learns about the users, making user interaction easier.

Presentation Translation layer for PowerPoint enables the presenter to speak in their native language while Microsoft Translator provides a translation into the language desired by the audience in real time.  The demo involved Yina Arenas speaking Spanish while English subtitles were displayed in real time.

Update: 5-10-2017 - Slight edits for clarity

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